What Are the Signs of Lipedema?
The earliest signs are generally the development of “saddlebags” on the hips in adolescence, the early 20s or during pregnancy. This fatty enlargement then begins its progression toward the feet, causing dimpling of the thighs. Although enlargement is circumferential, eccentric deposits may be found in the lower, inner thighs and upper-inner calves. This is usually symmetrical between the legs, but one side may develop faster.
Often, patients’ chief complaint is of swelling and enlargement of tissue around the ankle. On careful questioning, the “swelling” may not change much as the day progresses, and it may not subside overnight. Ultrasound evaluation at the ankle later in the day will not show fluid in the tissue. Unfortunately, if there is coexisting vein and/or lymphatic disease, there can be swelling with the finding of fluid in the tissue.
Lipedema by itself can create column-like ankles. Sometimes the fatty tissue of the legs is tender and patients may complain of easy bruising. History reveals poor-to-no results with diet and exercise from the hips down, although the upper body responds.